In their opening 2022 World Cup game on Wednesday afternoon, Japan defeated four-time champions Germany 2-1 thanks to two late goals. Germany took the lead in the Group E match thanks to a penalty kick from Ilkay Gundogan in the 33rd minute, but Japan turned things around in the second half, drawing even through Ritsu Doan
in the 75th minute before Takuma Asano won it eight minutes later. With Spain as their opponent on Sunday, Germany, who was eliminated from the 2018 World Cup in the group round, will look to rebound. Japan will play their next match against Costa Rica the same day.
In the eighth minute of play, Japan had the ball in the Germany goalwhen Daizen Maeda tapped in from close range, but the offside flag was rightfully raised. He was clearly in front of the final defender after Japan broke through thanks to sloppy play from Gundoganin the middle of the park and a fantastic Junya Ito cross that was converted.
When Antonio Rudiger met a corner from the left in the 16th minute, Germany had their first half-chance, but Rudiger's header was always going beyond of the opposition's goal.
In the 28th minute, Gundogan fired one into the arms of the Japan goalie. Shortly after, the Manchester City midfielder had a goal-bound shot blocked as Germany applied pressure.
When Shuichi Gonda tripped David Raum and dragged him to the ground in the 31st minute, Hansi Flick's squad was given a penalty. In the 33rd minute, Gundogan stepped up to give his team the lead by sending the Japan goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.
Before Germany threatened to score again before halftime, Jamal Musiala blasted high of the target from outside the box after Joshua Kimmich had hit the Japan crossbar late in the first quarter.
In first-half stoppage time, Kai Havertz pounced on a low Serge Gnabry cross and turned it into the back of the net from close range; however, the offside flag disallowed the Chelsea attacker from adding his name to the scoresheet.
As both teams had chances to score before the halftime whistle, Maeda then just missed the German post a few moments later.
Following deft work from Thomas Muller, Gnabry blasted the Japan goalkeeper's crossbar early in the second half. Musiala then hit the stands in the 51st minute after displaying excellent footwork inside the box.
Just before the hour mark, Gundogan surged to the outside of the box and had a great opportunity to add a second goal, but his low shot hit the post and went wide.
Gonda's brilliant goalkeeping prevented Germany from scoring 20 minutes from time. The keeper made a number of outstanding saves in rapid succession, most notably two outstanding stops from Gnabry.
Then, Manuel Neuer superbly stopped Ito going down the other end before Hiroki Sakai miraculously missed the post with the rebound.
However, Japan tied the game in the 75th minute when Doan scored from close range after Neuer was unable to stop a low cross from reaching the penalty area.
The second goal for Hajime Moriyasu's team came in the 83rd minute when Asano met a long ball from Ko Itakura, held off Nico Schlotterbeck's charge, and finished high into the goal.
Japan held on to record a famous victory in Qatar, surviving a late chance for Niklas Sule, who had a close-range shot blocked. Germany's greatest opportunity to tie the score came in the 95th minute when Leon Goretzka's strike was just wide of the post.
Now that Japan has a chance to advance to the competition's knockout round for the fourth time, Flick's team must defeat Spain.
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